People values are one of the cores of the PlusNet Cornerstones, and are listed as follows.
Be open, honest and respectful
Demonstrate drive, commitment and passion
Be accountable and participative by taking ownership and responsibility
Be creative, innovative and improvement focused
Support, educate and trust others
I don’t know about you, but when I first read these I did have some concerns. I’ve read Dilbert, and I’ve also worked in the public sector and as a result I have experienced a number of half (and even full) day workshops on objectives, mission statements and any number of other expense-justifying corporate-isms.
The thing that surprised me about these people values is, they really work - mostly because they aren’t deliberately mentioned at any opportunity, or shoved in your face whenever possible. I’ll attempt to explain why.
Well being open, honest and respectful is easy to see (not necessarily easy to do though). It helps that everyone tries, when someone shows you respect it’s a lot easier to respect them back, likewise with openness and honesty. As a CSC agent on the phone you can actually open your mouth and say that you don’t agree with something that a Director has just said and granted you won’t often get a complete turnaround (though this has been known to happen!) but you will at least get an explanation of why things are like they are.
It is therefore the case that anyone at PlusNet can talk to anyone else, regardless of station, and know that their views will be taken in to account. Which is nice.
Demonstrating drive, commitment and passion. Now. This sounds to my cynical mind exactly like anything any business would workshop at new employees for hours. Hasn’t happened here. Sure, it’s been mentioned. But the reason I know it works? Monthly awards, rallies, and (almost daily, it seems) forum posts lauding the exploits of Mr X from development or Miss Y from the products team because Project Z has been launched and is a success. Or there’s been a new tool implemented in Workplace (the platform that we work on) that has saved our CSC agents hours of work per week. It doesn’t have to take you hours, you don’t have to work day and night for two weeks. If it makes a difference, and you played a part, everyone loves you. It’s a good feeling.
Back to the managementspeak - Be accountable and participative by taking ownership and responsibility. As I said above, people do volunteer – partly I’m sure for the recognition, but for me it’s honestly because what I have volunteered to do (for example, this blog post) will actually make a difference to some people. Whether that’s who I work with, who I work for, or someone else entirely - it’s good to know. In addition it’s refreshing not to have to play the blame game at work. There’s no blame culture, simply because people know who’s working on what and will hold their hands up if the ball has been dropped. Once that is the case everyone can get on with working to sort out the issue rather than trying to shunt the blame about – and no, there’s no punishment and re-education doesn’t mean a 1984 style brainwashing. Provided you know what you did wrong everything is good and everyone can get on with more important things.
Being creative, innovative and improvement focused. Again, with all of the above in effect it appears that the working culture is such that if you can see where something would make a difference it’s a simple matter of posting the idea in a forum. This will then be discussed, you can persuade your colleagues to post supporting the idea – basically it’s as easy to make it known as it is to think ‘oh, it’s not worth it’ (and of course there’s the added incentive of being recognised) – and that’s it. When it’s that easy to make a difference, people put the effort (such as it is) in.
And finally, support, educate and trust others.
I think this is what has made the difference for me in being happy here, as clichéd as that sounds. Someone will give you a job to do, and then leave you to do it. Doesn’t sound like much, but when it’s – as above – actually something that makes a difference and you’re trusted to do that it’s quite a liberating feeling. You are trusted to do your work, and in turn you can trust that others will do theirs.
This also is good in that you know that your colleagues have your back should you need a hand. There’s always someone either nearby or on the end of a phone or jabber message that can help you do what you need to.
That’s the great thing about these people values. They aren’t just a set of rules to be applied, or a set of mission statements/company objectives/corporate guidelines. They are actually a constant across the business and in use all the time, without – and this is the really great part - anyone actually needing to think about it.